NY Times:Supplements Don’t Help Dementia

It is tiresome how many products are marketed with baseless claims of preventing dementia.  Some pushback:

NY Times: Supplements Won’t Prevent Dementia. But These Steps Might.

An excerpt:

The Food and Drug Administration estimates that 80 percent of older adults rely on dietary supplements, many purporting to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia…

Vitamins, various antioxidants, concoctions derived from animals and plants — “we see plenty of ads on TV, but we have no evidence that any of these things are preventive,” said Dr. Steven DeKosky, a neurologist and deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida.

Dr. DeKosky led a federally supported study of Ginkgo biloba extract, for instance, following more than 3,000 people for seven years to see if it reduced dementia. It didn’t.

Some of the steps that may help according to article:

  • Increased physical activity;

  • Blood pressure management for people with hypertension, particularly in midlife;

  • And cognitive training.

“Supplements and Safety”

There is a Frontline report (initially aired Jan 19th) on supplements.  A preview is available from the NY Times.

Supplements and Safety” –link includes a 5 minute video on fish oil. Here’s an excerpt:

The Frontline documentary investigates large outbreaks of disease tied to tainted vitamins and fat-burning supplements, including one case in which a workout supplement was linked to more than 70 cases of liver damage. The company whose products were at the center of that outbreak, USPlabs, is among 117 companies and individuals that the Justice Department filed criminal and civil enforcement actions against last year…

Despite their popularity, some studies have found that roughly three-quarters of fish oil supplements on the market do not contain the amount of omega-3 fatty acids advertised on their labels. Some have also found that fish oil supplements are prone to becoming rancid.

Fish oil supplements are widely marketed as beneficial to cardiovascular health. But the film points out that such claims are debatable at best. A majority of clinical trials have found no evidence that they protect against heart disease, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014.

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Liver toxicity -where to look online

Increasingly physicians as well as families gather medical information online.  Physicians, like patients, benefit when they know that a website is highly regarded by experts in the field.  This month’s Hepatology (2013: 57: 873-74) provides an introduction to the website LiverTox (www.livertox.nih.gov) (Search Livertox Database).

This website provides comprehensive and “evidence-based information on drug, dietary supplement, and herbal-induced liver injury that is freely accessible to physicians, researchers, and the public.”  The website includes about 650 different medications, supplements, and herbals; more than 12,000 annotated references are available.  In addition, the website allows clinicians to submit a case report as well as allow submission to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS).

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